Book Review: Prey by Michael Crichton

By Ana Downes

“Prey” is a disturbing sci-fi thriller about the ignorance and danger of the human race, as well as the threat posed by the rapid evolution of technology in our society. As someone who generally feels indifferent about the sci-fi genre, I can say that this book is in my top 3 reads of all time!

The story itself is extremely captivating and thrilling. Michael Crichton does a great job of developing his characters throughout the novel. I consider him to be one of the best writers in any genre. Crichton is well-versed in science and has a deep understanding of nanotechnology. There are paragraphs that are so scientifically complex that I had to reread them several times.

The protagonist Jack is a very likeable character who is intelligent, selfless, resourceful, and caring. Jack was a Silicon Valley computer programmer working on artificial intelligence. However, he was fired after discovering too much about his company’s corruption. He becomes an at-home father for 3 young children while his wife, Julia, is busy doing high-profile work at a company called Xymos, that is working on the development of nanotechnology. Julia begins acting very strange and distant. She comes home late every night and behaves very coldly.

The author develops the story, leading us through strange events such as their baby, Amanda, developing a mysterious rash, the memory chip in his son’s MP3 player turning to dust, and his wife, Julia, becoming abusive to the children. He leaves the reader wondering about the root cause of these strange happenings.

The author’s development of the plot is meticulously thought out. The reader has to pay special attention to all of the small details, as they become important later on in the story. Thus, the reader is drawn into the world that Crichton creates. Every detail becomes a part of the compelling tapestry of the story.

 We begin to learn that the nanobots, developed in Xymos, have been accidentally released into the Nevada Desert. They have formed a swarm—a swarm that evolves with every passing hour. It has become self-sustaining, self-reproducing, and even “learns” from experience. Jack is pulled into the complex web of deceit and dangerous experiments at Xymos and begins to learn information about the company as well as information about Julia that horrifies him.

A very interesting twist is that these nanobots had been programmed using coding that Jack himself had a part in developing at his old company; a program that was created with the foundational concepts of predatory animals in nature. As time goes by, the swarm becomes more and more deadly. The technology is rapidly becoming an extremely dangerous and unstoppable predator. And humans are its prey.

“Prey” is a very interesting and compelling read. Once you begin to read it, it becomes very difficult to put it down! It is scientifically informative and very thrilling. I also consider it a warning to the human race. There is a moral to the story, as portrayed in Crichton’s “Jurassic Park”, humans should not play God with nature. Technology has revolutionized our world in many positive ways, but it is also important to recognize that it is an extremely powerful and dangerous weapon.

“Prey” is an excellent book that really makes you think while keeping you in suspense up until the very last page. I am a fan of Crichton’s work and would definitely recommend “Prey” to anyone, especially those who enjoy science fiction.

Rating – 5 / 5